How to Say No to a Client (Even After You’ve Said Yes)
Our reputations as web designers and developers are important to us. The last thing we ever want to do is burn a bridge or feel like we’re disappointing someone.
Sometimes we need to find a way to say no (even after we may have said yes!).
The reality is that as business owners we’re constantly managing expectations. When we think about saying no, we worry that they might say things that will hurt our business. We worry that we’ll feel badly. We’ll worry we might miss an opportunity. And the worst — we worry that our businesses will suffer.
At some point during your web design journey, you WILL have a client who you say yes to that you will need to say no to before the project gets off the ground. What’s happened to me (more than a few times now) is that I give a client a verbal and whole hearted YES but then I discover that she’s not as ready as she think she is for my process. Maybe she’s not as responsive as she’s indicated or she doesn’t seem very sure about what she needs and wants for her website. After several emails to get the project off the ground, I figure out that my initial timeline won’t work. There could even be some red flags raised. I also just know based on these early interactions that the project just won’t light me up.
In today’s post, I’m giving you a script on how to say no to a client (even after you’ve said yes!) and get out of an about-to-go-wrong relationship with grace and ease.
Before we get to the script, I want to lay out the basic framework:
1. Acknowledge your original yes and include a statement of appreciation for her work.
2. Offer no apologies but do share a wee bit of context or insight into what’s happening behind the scenes of your own business.
3. Deliver a respectful no.
4. Highlight where you could suggest your client get help when she’s ready.
5. Extend a genuine statement of appreciation or support for who they are or the work they are doing in the world.
That’s it! It’s that easy to create and deliver a respectful no while keeping your reputation intact and avoiding hurt feelings.